Our favorite foursome just finished the third leg of their tour in support of the superb Most Messed Up in Santa Fe before a much needed break. They have been getting rave reviews from fans and publications alike. I was lucky enough to catch them back-to-back on the second leg, and I can tell you first-hand, this tour is something special!! They all are revitalized, reinvigorated and ready to rock your faces off with the energy, swagger and bravado of their 20-something selves. This tour is not to be missed!
As you might imagine, they’ve been doing tons of press and appearances over the past three months. I shall effort to condense the copious copy and live interviews down to a somewhat manageable level. It’s tough because there is a lot of love flowing for these magnificent Texans, the most recent of which is Rolling Stone Magazine’s 45 Best Albums of 2014 So Far list. MMU logged an impressive #17 slot, topping The Boss himself, Bruce Springsteen at #41. But, of course we all know this one is made of greatness.
Get ready. Here comes an onslaught of great Q & As with our fantastic frontman:
Bill Rabinowitz of The Columbus Dispatch speaks to Rhett about longevity, the fans immediate embrace of these songs and Ken’s explanation of the adult themes to his kids.
”’I’ll just have to explain it to my kid. I’ll say, you know, sometimes grownups come through a hard time and you’ve got to come up with ways to express it and words to talk about it. It’s complicated being a grownup.’ I thought that was perfect. It is complicated being a grownup. That’s what this record is all about.”
You can read the entire article here, or if you prefer, listen to the phone interview here.
Jeff at Whopperjaw talks to Rhett about this newfound success 20 years in, the ups and downs of the music industry, and his words of wisdom to kids at his alma mater.
“A stupid career choice is way better than making a career choice that hurts your soul in the long run. The bottom has fallen out of art and music. I don’t want to lose art and music. I don’t want to live in that world.”
The link to the full article is here.
James Sullivan of The Boston Globe finds out how failing to keep up drink-for-drink with Tommy Stinson led to Stinson playing on several tracks on MMU. Sullivan ends the article with this happy truth:
If they’ve settled down in their private lives, they still know how to raise the roof onstage.
“We all feel pretty confident in our ability to rock,” Miller says. “I don’t think we feel stupid yet, shaking our asses and making loud noise.”
You can read other great quotes here.
Stephen M. Deusner from CMT Edge and Rhett discuss the humanization of rock stars via social media and similarities between past characters and those featured on MMU.
An interesting observation you can read about here and ponder for yourself.
In the extensive cover story in the Illinois Entertainer, Rhett speaks about coming to terms with the Alt-Country label…
“For a long time, I think I was annoyed by the reductive nature of the label ‘alt-country’ and I wanted to announce to the world ‘Hey-I can do a lot of stuff, I can explore a lot of different avenues!'”
the liberating feeling of letting go of the need for doing the right thing and being perfect all the time, freeing him to write honestly…
“(Wasted) is sort of the thesis statement on the record … life is too short to be sitting around worrying about doing the right thing all the time.”
and his unexpected epiphany…
“I realized that the things I regret the most … are the things that I have not done. The things I was too scared to do.”
You’re going to want to take the time to read the entire article in which Rhett delves deeper into his mindset while penning MMU, talks a bit about his concern about his kids’ reaction to the album, and his upcoming solo effort. The link to the magazine is here.
With Andy Downing of ColumbusAlive, Rhett reflects on his 20 year career and his competitive nature concerning all-things Scrabble.
“Part of this record was allowing myself the luxury to reflect on the two decades I’ve spent in this band and the two-and-a-half decades I’ve spent as a professional musician,” he said. “People can smell when something is false, and so the best songs I’ve written are the ones that are the most honest and the most true to who I really am. Sometimes I’ll blow it up for the sake of a good story or for the sake of drama, but generally I’m that guy in those songs, and I’m just trying to tell something true to the world.”
You can read more here.
To Jeff Niesel of Cleveland Scene, Rhett confesses:
“Sometimes, you can do yourself a disservice by grasping toward universality. I love the idea of songs being applicable to everyone who listens to them. That said, sometimes, the most universal sentiments are the most personable and the most honest. In ‘Longer Than You’ve Been Alive,’ I talk about my job. It’s a really weird job. I don’t know of a lot of people who have been lead singers in rock bands for two decades. It’s a strange perspective I get to have. I love it. It’s weird. It’s also not what people think it is most of the time.”
Regarding the 97’s current onslaught of media buzz 20 years into their career, Rhett had this to say:
“I don’t know that I feel like anyone has taken us for granted. We’ve always had big appreciative audiences. It is a little weird 20 years in to have this newfound success, I guess. You know what they say: Better late than never. I’ll take it. I’ve seen both sides — pre-collapse and post-collapse — of the music business.”
There are other interesting tidbits in the full article here.
Rhett tackles a number of random, music-related questions on Yahooo, including which concert inspired him to be a musician, his pre-show ritual, and his go-to karaoke song. You can read his other fun answers here. Some of them may surprise you.
Murry also got to weigh in on his reflections of Most Messed Up.
With The Advocate’s John Wirt, Murry shares what he finds special about the songs on MMU penned by who he calls the “best songwriter in Texas”:
“What’s special about this record is that it’s autobiography about what was going on with Rhett. He was writing about tough times during middle life. And the songs are clever and funny. They’re Rhett at his best. Most Messed Up is the most cohesive batch of songs to ever appear on an Old 97’s album. The previous albums flow into each other, but this one is a singular snapshot of someone’s life.”
Check out his other impressions here.
Murry had this reply when Jennifer Levin from SantaFeNewMexican.com stated (with MMU being louder, harder, and curse-laden) suddenly the Old 97’s aren’t so sweet.
“MMU is about behaving badly in the middle of your life. We’re singing about our problems; we’re singing about pain that’s going on right now … We write about real stuff, some rough stuff that has gone on. I’m proud of that.”
Also, Murry sums up life’s pathos with the most succinct quote of all:
Men can get in a bad way by a girl.
Here, Here. You can read more here.
In a fun interview with Popmatters Jennifer Kelly, Murry starts off with a harrowing, wintry tale in a van, with the band and a whiskey bottle.
He goes on to talk about the “unrequited love of his life”, how the band were amazingly present during recording…
“…I think there was no way this record was not going to be loose and honest and thus very fresh and very present. That’s the first word that jumps out to me when I heard the record … the sheer presence of it. I haven’t really heard this band be this present in a while.”
and how Longer Than You’ve Been Alive teleports him back in time to the lean years huddled in that van on an icy night and speaks to the indelible bond between four musical brothers.
“When I hear that song, I’m in that van with that whiskey bottle freezing to death with these three guys. I feel the bridges between us when I hear that song. I feel the things that bind us together when I hear that song.”
Catch the rest of the conversation here. Jennifer’s right. As the title of the article states, there is no reason this band couldn’t last forever.